Feds aim to close off more lands to drilling, despite Obama remarks

On Friday, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management announced it was opening up 677,000 acres for oil shale drilling in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, and also 130,000 for tar sands activities in Utah.

However, in doing so, the administration has closed off 1.6 million acres originally slated for shale development, reports the Hill, despite the president touting his record of expanding oil drilling on federal lands during the campaign.

“We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration and my — the previous president was an oil man,” President Barack Obama said during the second presidential debate. “And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically. We’re encouraging it and working with the industry.”

“Once again, the president’s rhetoric on domestic energy development is light years away from the real-world regulations his administration implements,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for the Institute for Energy Research, in a statement. “The President wasted no time between a celebration in Chicago on Tuesday night and a return to business as usual back in Washington.”

During the debates, Republican candidate Mitt Romney criticized President Obama for closing off federal lands and offshore areas to drilling. Romney also pointed out the falling oil and gas production on federal lands.

“As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent,” Romney said in the second debate. “Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.”

According to IER, oil production on federal lands fell 11 percent from 2010 to 2011, and natural gas production on federal lands fell 6 percent during that same period. On private and state lands, however, oil production increased 14 percent, and natural gas production increased 12 percent.

The plan has drawn criticism from Republicans who say that the president has locked up valuable resources that could help grow the economy and create jobs.